Artist Ekene Ijeoma is creating a “voice portrait” of New York City’s residents

Ekene Ijeoma

Creating a portrait of New York City’s more than 8.5 million residents sounds daunting, but conceptual artist Ekene Ijeoma is hoping to convey New Yorkers’ diversity in their own voices. The artist has launched a remotely accessible public art project that aims to create a “voice portrait” of the city’s residents composed of recordings of them counting in their native languages. A Counting is accessible via the project’s website and over the phone (at 917-905-6647).

For Ijeoma, the project is also intended to raise awareness about the U.S. census, which historically has tended to underrepresent people of color— and whose 2020 edition was already facing challenges before COVID-19 hit. In a statement, the artist said:

Against the backdrop of the 2020 US census, a global pandemic, and a nationwide uprising against racism, A Counting seeks to recognize the linguistic and ethnic diversity of this country. […] New York City is one of the most diverse yet segregated cities and, at a time of increasing division, A Counting meditates on how to heal those divides and speculates on what a unified city could sound like.

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